Uncommon Sense

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Are ‘No-Fail’ Grading Systems Hurting or Helping Students?

Are ‘No-Fail’ Grading Systems Hurting or Helping Students?
April 27, 2009 by Joshua Rhett Miller

What’s a kid gotta do to get an “F” these days?

At a growing number of middle schools and high schools across the country, students no longer receive failing marks when they fail. Instead, they get an “H” — for “held” — on their report cards, and they’re given a chance to rectify their poor performance without tanking the entire semester.

While administrators and teachers say the policies provide hope for underperforming students, critics say that lowering or altering education standards is not the answer. They point to case studies in Grand Rapids, Mich., where public high schools are using the “H” grading system this year and, according to reports, only 16 percent of first-semester “H” grades became passing grades in the second semester.

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